We’re chatting with Faber Academy Director of Fiction and novelist Richard Skinner ahead of his event at the June Margate Bookie litfest. Keep reading for his sneak preview of his The Waste Land performance and the ideas behind it.
What’s The Waste Land all about?
Oooh, good question. Who knows? It has entranced and baffled people in equal measure ever since it came out in 1922. Personally, I think it has something to say about mental stability. It’s well known that TS Eliot was going through huge difficulties in his personal life at the time of writing, and I think the poem inevitably reflects his fragmented state of mind.
Where did the idea for The Waste Land come from?
I was aware that the 100th anniversary of the publication of the poem was upcoming and of the poem’s special connection to Margate (Eliot stayed in Margate for some weeks to recuperate) so I approached Andreas last year with a proposal to put on a live reading of the whole poem. He said yes.
Who’s going to be taking part?
TS Eliot has such a special place in the history of Faber & Faber that I knew we had to carry on that special relationship for this event. Consequently, I invited three Faber poets to take part: David Harsent, Richard Scott & Hannah Sullivan. All three are fine, award-winning poets and they will bring real expertise and gravitas to the reading.
Where and when can we see you at the litfest?
The event is on at 3.30pm on Sunday 5th June and should last around 45 minutes. This event is taking place in the spectacular setting of Turner Contemporary in a town that has a special significance for Eliot almost exactly 100 years after the publication of The Waste Land and is therefore unique. Don’t miss it! Grab your tickets now.